QOTD: Haven't I Seen You Somewhere Before?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd haven t i seen you somewhere before

It happens from time to time, even to people who spend their days gazing at the long, shapely flanks of the world’s most dazzling crossovers. Sometimes other vehicle types, too.

Often, there’s just too much rolling stock out there. Too many models that hit the scene, only to be quickly forgotten amid the constant deluge of new metal, new fascias, new nameplates. Driving along in heavy traffic, pulling up to a light, or even just standing there, watching cars pass, you sometimes come across a vehicle whose identity flummoxes you. The brain draws a blank.

I should know what that is, your mind says, but what the hell is it?

As a feeling of shame washes over you, the grey matter suddenly flies into gear. The mental cogs start grinding. Memory banks are are combed through, with the first obvious clues punched in like a keyword search. The badge, if you can see it. The recognition of a certain shape or design feature indicative of a certain brand. Usually, this, plus a moment or two, is all anyone needs to hit the right answer.

Only very rarely does the brain go so far offline that a name must be sought out on the exterior of a vehicle, assuming the subject’s not speeding past.

Such a moment happened last night as yours truly sat at a light. Or was it in a freeway backup? Driving becomes a blur sometimes, but this vehicle arrested my thoughts in a hurry. Nice sedan, I thought. Or is it a liftback? It looks kind of like a Civic, but it… isn’t. Acura? Nope. Hold on, what’s going on here?

What makes this bout of mental confusion over a compact passenger car so memorable is that it wasn’t the first time. This particular model has played the same jarring head game with your author before — perhaps eight months ago, maybe more.

It was a Honda Insight.

Blame a lack of local sales and a general media blackout for the model’s continued unfamiliarity. The mildly upscale hybrid surprised us all when Honda resurrected it for the 2019 model year, but its existence was soon overshadowed by more memorable models from other brands. Few people talk about it, and I can’t even recall the last time I saw someone mention it on Twitter. American Honda sold 8,886 Insights through July, versus 153,046 Civics.

I see considerably more Tesla Model 3s roaming the roads up here.

Your turn, B&B. What model recently turned your brain into a land of confusion?

[Image: Honda]

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2 of 44 comments
  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Aug 15, 2020

    About a week ago I confused a 2010ish Tucson for the post update Envision. Then again they were puttering on the freeway, and I was closing fast, so I was more concerned with getting the muck outta dodge and wasn't really focusing too hard. I won't pull the line that, "they all look the same," but it was a momentary lapse.

  • WallMeerkat WallMeerkat on Aug 19, 2020

    Caught a black fastback flying by, thought the rear end looked very Mercedes like, but it was a 4/5 door. Turned out to be a Vauxhall Insignia (aka Buick Regal). The rear looked very like an E class coupe - slim lights, round silver badge, it even had the fake exhaust pipes in the bumper.

  • Lou_BC Panther black? Borrowed from Dodge panther pink? One could argue that any Camaro is a limited run.
  • SCE to AUX I much prefer the looks of the Tucson version, but either is a great value.How was the driveability, namely the electric/gas transition? I had H/K's first attempt in a 13 Optima Hybrid (now in my son's garage), and it was gruff and abrupt in that phase of driving.
  • SCE to AUX My guess of $60k from a few years ago may be low.My EPA estimate would be 263 miles, but that's unladen, temperate conditions, driven at the speed limit, and 0% left in the tank - all unrealistic.Subtract 15% for full payload, 20% for cold, 10% for speed, and 20% minimum battery level, and you're down to 129 usable miles at times. Even in nice conditions (springtime, town driving), I'd only expect 180 usable miles.This vehicle will have the same challenge as electric pickups do - when used as intended (traveling with family and stuff in this case), the utility is lost.When these hit US roads, expect to see videos of unhappy/surprised customers who thought this thing would go 260+ miles all the time. For starters, it should have a 150 kWh battery, minimum, and then you're talking real money.No, I wouldn't buy it, but it might be a fun rental for local driving.The common argument "once everyone who wants one gets one, sales will die" may not apply here. 789k New Beetles were sold in the US from 1998-2021. True, sales dropped 50% in 5 years, and another 60% in the next 5 years, but it ebbed along for two decades, helped by a refresh along the way. That's not a bad run for a niche car.
  • Theflyersfan I still have visions of Radio Shack and Circuit City and Silo - the huge walls filled with hundreds of aftermarket cassette players fit for any budget and style. And the eyes would always go to the Alpine ones with the green lighting. When I see the old Japanese cars like this, I'm always reminded of those aftermarket stereos because it was like a rite of passage slapping in your own cassette deck and maybe if your rich enough, four new speakers, and mega-bucks here, the equalizer and amp. And this Toyota still has less rust on it than an 07 Silverado, so there's one positive.
  • Parkave231 Agree with everyone else here -- big initial push, and then everyone who wants one will have one.I am curious whether, or how much, extra engineering they had to do with respect to the front crash structure. Yes, this isn't a cab-over situation like the original and many 60s/70s vans, but there's still not a lot of real estate between you and the front bumper. (Maybe it's just an illusion.) I suppose with just enough nose and empty space in front of the firewall they could have a pretty beefy impact system there.